A paratrooper injured during a tour of Afghanistan more than a decade ago has been forced to seek legal advice over his aftercare needs.
Lance bombardier Ben Parkinson suffered a severe brain injury and lost both his legs after a Land Rover he was travelling in was struck by an anti-tank mine in the North of Helmand Province in Afghanistan in September 2006. As a result of his injuries, Ben requires 24/7 care for the rest of his life – yet his compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme falls short of his care requirements.
Ben’s aftercare package is provided by a combination of the MoD, NHS England and the Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – but he and his mother have been forced to instruct lawyers on the basis that these organisations have failed to meet his needs and to properly coordinate this care provision.
From my experience, the issues Ben is encountering are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the failings of the MoD and the limitations of the NHS when dealing with catastrophic battlefield injuries. He will have suffered multiple horrific injuries – from amputations to deafness, head injuries, scars, burns and other mental health issues. These injuries require a battery of medical disciplines and aftercare.
The current proposal by the MoD to calculate the cost of his care under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is very worrying. Who has better experience in calculating the complex issues of life expectancy, discount rates and multipliers than highly specialised, independent lawyers with years of experience dealing with such issues? Unless our service personnel have the right access to justice through the courts, how can the right level of funding ever be secured?